Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America

Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America

From GBP £8,395

Description

Let us take you to some of the loveliest and least explored coasts and islands of the Caribbean Sea and Central America. Our voyage promises to be a fascinating one combining as it does an exploration of wildlife-rich Costa Rica with calls to some little-known islands of Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala and visits to the fascinating sites of Lamanai in Belize and Chichen Itza in Mexico. Our days will be spent swimming from pristine beaches, searching for endemic flora and fauna and learning about the history of the ancient Mayan civilisations, the colonial years and the more recent events of the region. Our journey also includes the vibrant capital of Cuba, Havana, a veritable feast for the traveller with its colonial squares and buildings, delightful people and a lifestyle that is more 1930s than that of today. We have two full days here to explore before our last call to the Bahamian island of Bimini, a relaxing end to what promises to be an endlessly fascinating voyage.

The Central American countries have over the past decade grown in their appeal to the UK traveller. No wonder when you consider the attractions; teeming rain forest, cool cloud forest, sugar-sand beaches and a remarkably diverse landscape, wildlife and culture. However, when exploring the region, the usual option is long, overland travel traversing rugged roads in order to get around. There is an easier and more comfortable way to explore the region and that is by small ship and the MS Hebridean Sky is the perfect vessel for such a journey and our Zodiacs will be put to good use in the more remote places allowing us to land and explore otherwise unreachable places. With just over 100 passengers, we can explore in small groups ashore and enjoy a convivial atmosphere on board.

Trip Name
Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America
Days
16
Overview
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 110 Built: 1992 - newly re-launched 2016 The Hebridean Sky (formerly the Sea Explorer) underwent a 6.5 million dollar refurbishment. Always  known for its effortless elegance, impeccable service and atmosphere of charm and camaraderie, the Hebridean Sky continues that tradition adding a host of new amenities as well as state of the art stabilization, fuel efficiency, and upgraded communications systems. Its all-suite accommodations and increased adventure options make the Hebridean Sky the perfect blend of luxury and adventurous exploration. SPACIOUS SUITES Hebridean Sky is an all-suite yacht accommodating up to 110 guests. Built in 1992, refurbished 2014 and again in 2016, each suite features: • Exterior views • Your choice of queen-sized or two twin-sized beds • Sitting area with sofa and side chair • Flat Screen TV with DVD/CD player • Telephone • Independent temperature controls • Mini-Bar • Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries • Hair dryer • 220 square feet or more • Sofa can be converted to bed for third person In adition Promenade, Deluxe, Veranda & Penthouse Suites include: • En suite Champagne & Chocolates on Arrival • Complimentary mini-bar (beer, wine & soft drinks) • $100 per person Gift Shop credit • En suite Nespresso machine Penthouse Suites (325 sq.ft.) and Veranda Suites (260 sq.ft.) feature private balconies. ONBOARD DINING Great expeditions require great food! Our team of world-class chefs offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that change daily. They have boat-loads of creativity, so you are sure to experience a variety of remarkable cuisine throughout your voyage. SERVICES • World-Class Cuisine • Complimentary Wine with Dinner • Live Entertainment • Complimentary Coffee/Tea station • Voyage Photographer • On-board MD and Facilities • Dedicated Passenger Service Manager • Pre-voyage hotel night • Complimentary Expedition Jacket FACILITIES • Elevator serving all passenger decks • Upgraded WIFI Internet • Library with computers • Panoramic Top Deck Observation Platform • Bar/Lounge with Live Entertainment • Boot Room • Lounge with Audiovisual Facilities • DVD Movie Library Deck plans may very depending on the ship operator.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 - London to San Jose, Costa Rica.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight. Arrive this evening and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day and evening are at leisure.
Day 2 - Day 2 - San Jose to Puerto Limon.
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel and a morning at leisure before we transfer to Puerto Limon to embark the MS Hebridean Sky this afternoon. We will have Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we moor overnight.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Puerto Limon.
This morning we head south to the Cahuita National Park. The area is filled with wildlife that includes howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, racoons, sloths, otters, coatis, agoutis, armadillos and porcupines. Several avian species also live in the swamp forest, including the green ibis, the green kingfisher, the yellow-crowned night heron, the frigate bird and the boat-billed heron, among others. Our naturalist guides will lead us through the trails of the rainforest, sharing their vast knowledge of this fragile ecosystem. After lunch on board the MS Hebridean Sky, the afternoon is free to relax or join a restored passenger train and travel through beautiful scenery to catch a glimpse of some more of Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife such as sloths and monkeys. The train track is part of the 3’ 6” gauge Atlantic Railway, opened in 1890 to link San Jose with the country’s east coast but closed to regular services after severe damage by an earthquake in 1991. For the second part of the trip, we will board a boat and travel along the scenic Tortuguero canals, where waterfowl, white-faced and spider monkeys can be spotted.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Isla de Providencia, Colombia.
Often referred to as ‘Old Providence’ in English, Providencia is a beautiful Colombian island that is little known and relatively untouched by the hand of tourism. Along with its smaller sister island of Santa Catalina, it is enclosed by an extensive barrier reef system of some 35 kilometres in length, making it one of the most significant reefs in the world. Captured twice by Henry Morgan and his buccaneers who aimed to make it a British possession, it nevertheless ended up Spanish and is now a remote Colombian island. After a relaxing morning at sea, we arrive at lunchtime and will use our Zodiacs to tender ashore where we spend the afternoon on an island tour and travel in local boats to Crab Cay for snorkelling.
Day 5 - Day 5 - At Sea.
Relax on board, find a spot on deck to read or maybe join one of our lectures as we continue our journey north.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Guanaja Island, Honduras.
The easternmost of the three Bay Islands, Guanaja is covered in a forest of Caribbean pine and, when Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1502, he named it the Isla de Pinos (Island of Pines). Unlike some of the surrounding islands, only small ships like ours can anchor here. Our Zodiacs will take us ashore and we will spend the day exploring the island and its surroundings. Visit the small town, use local boats to explore the mangrove channels, snorkel in one of the nearby cays, visit the small turtle sanctuary or join nature walks with the local guides.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Livingston, Guatemala.
Surrounded by water and jungle, Livingston is a settlement of Garifuna people, accessible only by sea, which is just one of the things that makes it unique among Guatemalan cities. We anchor and transfer onto local boats and venture up the Rio Dulce hoping to see pelicans, cormorants and herons as we cruise up the river before arriving at the Ak’tenamit project, a local social development organisation supporting sustainable tourism. Here we will walk the trails viewing birds and plants before returning to spend time in Livingston itself.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Belize City, Belize.
This morning MS Hebridean Sky will arrive in Belize and anchor off Belize City. We have an interesting day ahead as we travel inland to the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai (translates to ‘submerged crocodile’). From the nearby town of Orange Walk Bridge, we board local boats for a wildlife cruise through mangroves, wetlands and forests. Look out for egrets, herons, kingfishers, snail kites and black collared hawks as we make our way up river past Morelet’s crocodiles. A short walk through the jungle brings us to the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve with its massive pyramids which are in fact pyramids built upon pyramids. Local guides will tell the story of this site which is the only Mayan city known to have been inhabited through every age of Mayan civilisation.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Costa Maya, Mexico.
From the port of Costa Maya, we will head inland to the recently excavated site of Kohunlich, named after the giant Cahoon palm trees found nearby. The jungle city appears to have functioned as a regional centre and a stop along trade routes between the Yucatan, Guatemala and Belize. We will find raised platforms, pyramids, citadels, courtyards and plazas all laid out to channel drainage into a system of cisterns and an enormous reservoir to collect rainwater. Its most famous structure, however, is a classic pyramid: the 5th-century Temple of Masks. It features a central stairway flanked by eight 10-foot-high masks that were originally thought to depict the Sun God “Kinich Ahau.” We will have lunch in a local restaurant before returning to ship in the late afternoon.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Cozumel.
The island of Cozumel is our base for a choice of tours today. We will travel by boat to mainland Mexico for our full day tour to the Mayan site of Chichen Itza, one of the new ”seven wonders of the world”. Our visit will include the great main plaza with the adjoining imposing El Castillo, also known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan. Other buildings include the Temple of the Carved Panels, the Temple of the Warriors and the nearby Group of the Thousand Columns, the Ball Court and the Caracolor Observatory. Alternatively stay on the island of Cozumel and visit the pre-Columbian Mayan site of San Gervasio. This was a hub of worship for the goddess lx Chel, the deity of childbirth, fertility, medicine and weaving and women would make a pilgrimage to the site at least once in their lives. Return to the ship for lunch and a free afternoon in the local town.
Day 11 - Day 11 - At Sea.
After a busy few days enjoy a relaxing day at sea, maybe join a lecture or find a spot on deck to settle down with a book.
Day 12 - Days 12 & 13 - Havana, Cuba.
We have two full days to explore Havana and will offer a choice of several excursions during our time here. Discover Habana Vieja (Old Havana) with its twisting, cobbled streets that lead to beautifully restored Baroque churches, castles and palaces and visit the 16th century Plaza de Armas, the oldest plaza in the city and its original administrative centre. Learn more about Hemingway’s Cuba and visit the legendary writer’s finca in San Francisco de Paula and the Ernest Hemingway Museum. Later, call into Cojimar Village, the inspiration for ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Explore modern Havana on a drive along the Malecon, Havana’s seafront to Vedado. See the Plaza de la Revolucion and the headquarters of President Fidel Castro and his Council of Ministers. We also hope to embrace one of the traditional industries of Cuba with a visit to a cigar factory learning about the traditional techniques still in practice today. For those wishing to venture further, we will offer a full day tour to the Vinales Valley in the Pinar del Rio Province. It is here that some of the best tobacco is grown, harvested and processed. We will learn about the production techniques, see the traditional Cuban country lifestyle and enjoy lunch before our scenic drive back to the ship. We also hope to have musicians join us on board for a concert as we moor overnight.
Day 13 - Day 14 - Bimini, Bahamas.
After a busy couple of days we have a relaxing morning at sea before we arrive in the Bahamas at lunchtime. The island of Bimini is just 50 miles from the Florida coast and in the prohibition days was used as an offshore speakeasy. Today it is more famous for its miles of pristine beaches and we will have a leisurely afternoon to either wander on the island, sit on the beach or enjoy a swim in the sea.
Day 14 - Day 15 - Nassau to London.
Disembark and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.
Day 15 - Day 16 - London.
Arrive this morning.
Day 16 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Amundsen Standard Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Byrd Superior Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Shackleton Owner's Balcony Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Byrd Superior Sole
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Shackleton Hebridean Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Mawson Premuim Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Mawson Corner Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Scott Deluxe Balcony Suite
10-04-202025-04-2020GBP £0Amundsen Standard Sole

Inclusions

    • Discover the Cahuita National Park. The area is filled with wildlife that includes howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, racoons, sloths, otters, coatis, agoutis, armadillos and porcupines
    • Visit Providencia
    • a beautiful Colombian island that is little known and relatively untouched by the hand of tourism
    • Explore Livingston
    • a settlement of Garifuna people, accessible only by sea
    • Travel to the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai (translates to ‘submerged crocodile’)
    • Have two full days to explore Havana

Map